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Game Day Fuel: Sports Nutrition for Youth

Sports Nutrition for Youth - Honey Stinger Salted Caramel Energy WaffleSports are foundational for youth. They’re opportunities for younger kids to get exercise, develop motor skills, make friends, and work together. For older kids, team sports hone specific physical abilities, ignite passion, and build character and confidence. For all youth, team sports instill lifelong habits that set the stage for future success in life.

As youth sports have become normalized in the US, so have the expectations of what we feed our kids and how they eat. One factor that plays into the current junk food and drive-thru culture is time. Parents are busy and constantly pulled in different directions. Even the best intentions to prepare healthy snacks and meals can be derailed by lack of time and convenience.

Allison Maurer, MS, RD, CSSD

Meet Allison Maurer, MS, RD, CSSD
Allison is Associate Athletic Director of Student Health and Wellness at Knoxville Catholic High School in Knoxville, Tennessee. She previously served as The Director of Sports Nutrition for the University of Tennessee Athletic Department and the Pittsburgh Pirates MLB and MiLB Clubs.

Allison is passionate about working with youth athletes and parents to help them better understand the impact of food as fuel for kids who participate in sports. “Eating healthy is almost impossible to do 100% of the time,” Allison says, “we need to reframe how we use food. Kids need to be conscious and intentional about what they eat and think in terms of fueling. Kids often see the crackers and chips and just eat because it is there.” Parents have the ability to ask important questions to make sure their child fuels properly. For example “how hungry are you?” “How much energy did you feel you had by the end of the game?”  Prompting kids to be more aware of what they need can help them to not only fuel for performance but to also recognize hunger and fullness cues.

In her work, Allison finds that busy families often fall to two pitfalls when it comes to fueling their kids:

  1. They do not plan ahead. Parents may get busy and run late and that is normal. Pack nutrient dense snacks the night before the tournament or game so you don’t have to think about it as you race out the door. It is also important to pack high quality snacks to hold kids over until their next meal. Families might have to get fast food, but eating a pack of trail mix and getting a smaller fast food meal is better than being starving and super sizing everything!
  2. A subconscious buy-in to media messages and myths. Just because a celebrity or professional athlete promotes it, does not mean it is good for a 10 year old. Stick with the basics, carbs for energy, water and moderate electrolytes for hydration, some protein and carbs for recovery.

Choosing The Right Sports Nutrition
Honey Stinger makes delicious Sports Nutrition (Waffles, Chews, Bars, Gels and Hydration), and uses honey and other natural sweeteners as the energy source (or carb) for quick absorption and sustained energy without the crash that comes from refined sugars. Their products are designed to provide enough energy to sustain athletes for practice, but they aren’t so filling that kids don’t have room for their next meal.

All Honey Stinger’s products fall into their Prepare, Perform, and Recover system to make it easy to find the right fuel for the correct stage of exercise. And the usage is labeled on the back of pack.

Honey Stinger Fruit Smoothie Energy Chew Usage Label

Honey Stinger Honey Energy Waffle Usage Label

“These categories make people think about timing—when we require energy and how our bodies expend it relative to exercise,” says Allison. “It helps us understand that bodies go through unique physical phases before, during, and after exercise.”
Honey Stinger Youth Sports Nutrition